Within a six month period, an estimated 37,000+ children had a parent incarcerated in Cook County. Young children of incarcerated parents are often forced to confront emotional, social and economic consequences early on in their lives, which can trigger behavioral problems in school, relationships and more that extend long after their loved ones have been released.
To alleviate some of the struggles these families are going through, Walmart is supporting a pilot program in partnership with Chicago-based company ConTextos and the Chicago Public Library to create an app called Bedtime Stories. The app allows incarcerated individuals and their families connect through a tech-based storytelling experience. Created to alleviate some of the struggles that children and their parents face while being incarcerated, this app brings families together for a positive experience that helps them remain connected.
“When we learned about Bedtime Stories, it felt like a natural fit as we were expanding our efforts in Chicago. We believed in the vision of the initiative and knew we had to take the opportunity to help it grow and ultimately make the community stronger.”– Keith Wyche VP Community Engagement & Support at Walmart
The app is an integrated, seamless experience that enables incarcerated parents to make audio recordings of themselves reading children’s books, which are held at the library for children to pick up and take home to read along to their parent’s audio recording. Designed with interactive features to accompany audio for greater engagement and emotional benefit, this app allows children and parents to share a special moment in time that’s key to childhood and parenthood.
The app works in a few simple steps:
- Children are able to go onto the app and pick out a book that the incarcerated parent can read to them.
- The Chicago Public Library makes sure that the book is available and hands it off to the ConTextos team.
- From there, ConTextos goes into Cook County Jail to record the parent reading the book to their child.
- When they’re finished the recording is uploaded to the app for the child to enjoy their parents voice as they read the book!
“From conception to execution, we knew Bedtime Stories would bring people together. Whether it be us working with our partners or parents bonding with their children, the app took a life of its own and we’re excited to continue expanding it across the nation.”– Johnny Page Co-Director of Programs & Partnerships at ConTextos
Children with engaged parents tend to do better in K-12 school, attend and graduate from higher education, and develop better social and intrapersonal skills. With direct impacts of the worldwide health crisis, racial injustice and civil unrest in many Chicago neighborhoods, Walmart is focused on investing inside and outside of its walls in the community. In addition to rebuilding and reopening its local stores with expanded offerings, Walmart is investing in the Chicago community by partnering with minority programs and Black-owned artists and businesses. Chicago Bedtime Stories is the latest Chicago-based initiative that Walmart is proud to support.